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Speech at the China-US Business Roundtable


 

 TIAN Guoli, Chairman, Bank of China
2015.09.23 Seattle

 

Distinguished President Xi Jinping
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning!

At the welcoming dinner yesterday, President Xi Jinping talked about how hard he had worked to help local villagers to afford to keep meat as a steady source of food when he served as the local village-level CPC Branch head. As I heard the story, my eyes were almost filled with tears. People of our generation all experienced hunger and thirst for meat. So when Mr. Wan Long’s company, Shuanghui, planned to acquire the world’s largest pork processing company, Smithfield and needed support from Bank of China, we, without any hesitation, issued in its favor a letter of guarantee worth so much that it covers a $4 billion transaction. This is not only because we have full understanding of and confidence in this industry, but also urgently driven by a deeply-rooted memory of the long-gone hunger and a sense of responsibility to make sure Chinese people would no longer have to worry about their kitchen supply of meat.

It is particularly meaningful for this meeting to be held in Seattle, a city leading the world’s innovation, where we are gathering to talk about the future and the way we are going to work together.

Seattle is home to world-renowned companies such as Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon. I am representing a commercial bank. When compared with those e-commerce companies such as the one Mr. Ma Yun has built, commercial banks sound out-of-fashion and conservative. But as a commercial banker, I feel particularly impressed by the evolution of the industries represented by those names over more than a hundred years. Such evolution has served as proof that traditional industries do not perish along with the rise of the new ones. Instead, they become more vigorous through technological innovation and upgrading. Such combination of tradition and innovation is the engine of our social progress.

Same stories are happening in China.

I would like to share with you an example. China’s Conch Group is the world’s biggest cement producer. Bank of China is helping it build 100 waste treatment plants, where municipal solid waste will be disposed by the residual heat of cement kiln. With this technology, each year every plant can reduce landfill sites by the area of 5 football courts and save 24, 000 tons of coal. We have witnessed many cases like this, where even the cement industry, a traditional industry known for high energy consumption and high pollution, can be turned into a green economy pioneer.

Of course, the process of industrial transformation is painful. With the slowing down of economic growth, many enterprises are faced with challenges.

Still, the Chinese government firmly encourages and promotes industry restructuring, reducing energy consumption and carbon emission. It undertakes the responsibilities as a big country and honors its commitment to the international community. China’s banking industry also faces up to the challenges and shoulders responsibilities.

In a challenging time like this, commercial banks must give more attention to traditional companies. Bank of China now serves 2.8 million corporate clients globally, and thousands of times more corporate employees and individuals. We need to think of their livelihood while we are exhilarated by innovation. We are obliged to work with them and find a path combining innovation with tradition.

To entrepreneurs, transformation means opportunities.

China’s economic restructuring brings substantial business opportunities to companies from both countries. I have three suggestions to make:

First of all, we should deepen our cooperation. We should leverage our respective strengths along the industrial chain, so as to give full play to the U.S. companies’ advantages in information technology, clean energy and new materials, as well as to Chinese companies’ advantages in market coverage and production technology. I have noticed that recently both General Motors and Ford have announced their plans to increase their investment and upgrade their production lines in China in order to meet the needs for environment friendly vehicles. Bank of China is willing to provide one-stop financial services for them in this regard including supply-chain financing, consumer credit solutions, and so on.

Secondly, we could expand the area of cooperation. For example, we could jointly explore the markets of a third country via platforms such as the Belt and Road Initiative. Bank of China recently provided export financing to projects in Pakistan and Egypt where China Power collaborated with GE. This new business model is branded “U.S. technology plus Chinese construction” and I call on both sides to mobilize more financial resources to promote this model.

Thirdly, we must strengthen the cooperation of SMEs. SMEs require more support from governments and financial institutions. We must support them not only because they create jobs for communities but also, more importantly, offer considerable driving force and wisdom to social innovation. Last year, Bank of China New York Branch received the Award of Excellence in community services by the U.S. regulators. Next Monday, Bank of China will host the China-U.S. SME Trade Matchmaking Conference in New York, where more than 200 SMEs from both countries will participate. Such event is jokingly referred to as “cross-border marriage making”.

In addition, I would like to raise another point. More than 1,600 companies have been set up in the US with investment from China, creating over 80,000 jobs in a total of 44 states. In contrast, Chinese banks have found a lot of difficulty trying to set up branches in the US, with merely 4 states being covered by Chinese banking presence. We hope the US authority could render more facilitation in this regard.

Last but not least, many companies present here today are Bank of China’s business partners and clients, and in turn Bank of China is also a client to many of you. The fact that we are clients to each other is the epitome of deep-level cooperation between Chinese and American companies. I believe President Xi’s historic visit to will build a broader stage for further business cooperation, and let our cooperation bring more positive energy to the world.

Thank you.

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